I cannot impress on you enough the amount of times I have been asked “so why did you choose to be a math major, of all things?” It’s an honest question, and sometimes I ask myself the same exact thing, because sometimes I lose sight of my reasons. However, I do love to talk about being a math major, so let’s get to it!
When I first came to Biola, I was a Cinema and Media Arts major for the first two semesters. Our film program is amazing, don’t get me wrong, but I quickly realized it just was not the place for me to be. I would have random panic attacks/anxiety attacks in the middle of random classes, and I was enjoying those major-specific classes the least. I spent a lot of time rethinking my major, and with rethinking your major comes rethinking your school, and that’s totally okay! A lot of us go to a specific school because of the major-specific opportunities you have there, and it’s okay to change majors and consider changing schools.
I wanted to make sure I chose the right major, and so I spent a lot of time in prayer, made many lists about what I enjoy to do and learn about, and sat down with friends and family to see what they would think I would be good at (people never seem to stop undervaluing input from those who know you best, and it’s an amazing blessing to have people that truly know you well and care about where you end up). To make a long story short, I realized how unhappy I was when I was not engaged in something intellectually challenging, and math was definitely a challenge, so I chose that! In no way did I give up my love for creative pursuits, however; I still make videos, take photos, and do writing like I am right now!
Ultimately, I did not doubt that Biola is where I wanted to pursue my math degree. Once I had tasted and seen the blessings God has showered on Biola, I was not willing to give that up. There is so much that Biola offers that other schools don’t, all while providing top-notch education, especially in maths and sciences. The faith integration and genuine Christian fellowship and love for Christ that is in the students and faculty on campus (you can almost see it as soon as you walk on campus, it’s crazy!) is absolutely next-to-none. There’s chapels, extracurricular activities like a giant dodgeball tournament or a week dedicated to missions or other theological topics, and even numerous Bible classes with some of the most amazing professors you will ever meet! Even the major-specific professors are God-fearing believers who glorify God in the way they lead and teach. Not to mention, Biola is in an amazing location. Disneyland is right around the corner, Knottsberry Farm isn’t too far either, Downtown LA, Griffith Observatory, the Getty, and numerous beaches are generally less than an hour away. There was absolutely no way I could give up being at Biola.
So, I switched majors. I gave control to God and said that I was going to stick with this one all the way through. If I am being honest, math is math. No matter where you learn it, the basic material is not going to be any better or worse than anywhere else. And, yes, there are definitely cheaper and more “prestigious” schools I could have moved to. But, nothing, and I mean nothing, beats Biola’s faith integration in academics. If we look at just the math portion of the school, it is such a small population that there is so much room for connection between professors and students, even to the point of having lunches with the professors to get to know everybody better. I love math, and I love how Biola is an amazing steward of the knowledge and gift that we’ve been given by God to understand math.
You might be asking, but Ethan, why math? Like what about math makes you excited to do it? What do you want to do with it? Well, I like math because of one simple thing: it challenges me, and it is direct insight into the mind of God. God created everything we see and don’t see. A painter’s painting reflects the painter himself. One can look at a painting in deep detail and know who painted it. The same thing is with God and math; in nature, in life, in the way the world works, math is central to it all, and it shows God’s brilliance, his fingerprint on creation. I look at math, and I see God. Math is complex and beyond anything I could create I cannot help but stand in awe and wonder of his vastly more infinite intellect.
Also, I am a firm believer that college is not to prepare you for a career. I don’t think that’s how we ought to look at it. Of course, some careers (like medical careers) require a degree, and rightly so. However, I do not believe that is the purpose of higher education. I go to college because I love to learn, and college makes the individual who takes it seriously a more holistically well-rounded contributor to society. We become better people because of it. Who cares if it can make you money. That’s not why we learn. We learn to be better people, so that we may in turn better glorify God through our lives. Because I believe this, I do not feel any pressure to use my degree after graduation. If God wants that, I am all for it! However, my creative pursuits, which I definitely do not need a degree to do, are what drive me much more in the career-related fields. I am getting a math degree because I love math, love God, and love to learn! (also, my concentration is computer science so I am making sure my degree does not become obsolete and is always a good fallback option. Computers are not going obsolete any time soon!).
It all boils down to a basic few motivations, motivations I think everyone should consider when choosing a major. Don’t necessarily look at your major as a career; ask yourself, do you enjoy learning this subject? Do you learn more about God in it, and thus worship him more intently? Look at whether you will be a more well-rounded individual from it. Don’t think about how much money you could make. I made that mistake. Focus on what you can truly enjoy spending four years learning about, and what you could enjoy for - maybe - the rest of your life. Leave the financial aspect up to God. He takes care of sparrows, and arrays the flowers in the field in beautiful garments. How much more will he take care of every one of your needs? When choosing a major, I implore you; find something that you love, something you would love to spend a lot of time learning, and something that can bring glory to God. and most of all, make sure you do it at Biola, the greatest university ;)
With brotherly love,